Obama Has A New Plan…Free College Education

Via Memeorandum

President Obama’s newest scheme is giving out free two year college education to “responsible” students. Here’s the gist of the proposal as reported on WhiteHouse.gov:

Today, the President unveiled a new proposal: Make two years of community college free for responsible students across America.

In our growing global economy, Americans need to have more knowledge and more skills to compete — by 2020, an estimated 35 percent of job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree, and 30 percent will require some college or an associate’s degree. Students should be able to get the knowledge and the skills they need without taking on decades’ worth of student debt.

The numbers:

If all 50 states choose to implement the President’s new community college proposal, it could:

  • Save a full-time community college student $3,800 in tuition per year on average
  • Benefit roughly 9 million students each year

Under President Obama’s new proposal, students would be able to earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree, or earn the technical skills needed in the workforce — all at no cost to them

I got to hand it to the President…it’s not such a bad idea. It’s an idea that’s been tried before though. From 1960 until 1982, the state of California instituted a program which gave a free post secondary education to in state residents for free, including books. Students just had to pay a nominal registration fee that could only be used for such things as administrative costs, counseling and health services.

Not even the much admired Ronald Reagan during his tenure as Governor of California, could get the colleges to charge tuition.

From the NYT, 1982:

The no-tuition concept was embodied in the state’s 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education, which established a three-tier system of free public higher education and led to vast expansion.

The system grew to include nine campuses of the University of California, which accepts the highest achievers among high school graduates; 19 campuses of the California State University system, whose admission standards are less restrictive, and 106 two-year community colleges.

The new recommendation, by an advisory body to the Legislature and Governor, to a large extent addresses a semantic paradox left over from Mr. Reagan’s eight years as Governor, ending in 1975.

Mr. Reagan fought hard in the Legislature to impose tuition at four-year colleges. He lost the battle to lobbyists for the university, who have long been among the most powerful in Sacramento.

However, the Legislature agreed to increase student registration fees, which had been nominal. Under state law, the fees can be spent only for noninstructional functions, such as certain administrative costs, counseling and health services.

Since Mr. Reagan left Sacramento, the fees have grown substantially. For residents attending the University of California system this year, the annual fees total $1,194; at the larger state university system, $441. This year some community colleges started charging for instructional materials. Free Education Is No More.

(Our family left California in the summer of 1975 when I was a junior in high school so I missed out.)

All in all, I think it’s a sound concept. Now if he could only do something about the high cost of text books. My Grand Daughter just had to pay $250 bucks for a required Biology textbook. That’s outrageous! Even if she could have found a used book, it would have still cost over a $100 bucks. She’s paying more for the damn book than she paid for the class.


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